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Unlocking Independence: The Importance of Summer Jobs for Teens

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Summer break – a time cherished by teenagers as a period of freedom, relaxation, and fun. While it's crucial to enjoy the break from academic pressures, it's also an opportune time for teens to dip their toes into the workforce by taking on a summer job. I did a recent DO WIT podcast episode on this, but decided to dive a little deeper in this post and get some insights from teens! So teens … this one's for you!


Financial Independence and Responsibility
Summer jobs offer you the first taste of financial independence. Earning your own money provides you with a sense of ownership and responsibility. By managing your earnings, whether it's for personal expenses or saving for future goals like college, you learn the value of budgeting and financial planning early on. Plus, having a summer job means you can afford those concert tickets, video games, or that cute outfit you've been eyeing. It's a taste of independence – you earn it, you spend it. Simple as that.

Work Ethic and Time Management
Holding a summer job teaches you the importance of commitment and dedication. You will learn to adhere to a schedule, arrive on time, and fulfill your responsibilities. This instills a strong work ethic that will serve you well in future endeavors. School teaches you a lot, sure, but nothing beats getting your hands dirty (figuratively speaking). Olivia Wilson, founder of Covers for Recovery, has spent the last three summers working. She’s had a variety of summer jobs over the past three years including camp counseling, babysitting, hostessing and working at the beach. Olivia thinks that, “It’s good to get a variety of experiences especially at a younger age. It helps to gain a wider perspective on life and what you want to do with yours.” Last summer she started the charity Covers for Recovery and it was slightly more difficult trying to balance working two jobs, but she shared with me, “I’m the type of person to really like a routine and I feel like working a summer job has helped me structure my summer more.”

Professional Development
Summer jobs can expose you to the professional world, allowing you insights into various industries and career paths. Whether it's flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant, assisting customers in retail, or interning at a local business, every job offers you valuable lessons and experiences. And learning how to communicate effectively, collaborating with coworkers, and handling customer interactions, will help you now and in the future. Nsoroma Karmue, founder of Melan is Beautiful, is hoping to get her first job this summer. She believes that, “Adults should absolutely hire teens, as it not only helps them gain work experience but also benefits businesses with fresh perspectives and enthusiasm.” Karmue added that she really wants a job this summer because, “I would appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow in a professional setting.”

Personal Growth and Confidence
Taking on a summer job will help you step out of your comfort zone and tackle new responsibilities. Julia Howe, founder of Hitting The Wall, once spent a summer being a camp counselor for a program providing English learning support to Chinese immigrant children. She shared, “I went into it pretty excited because I had always generally gotten along with kids. Nothing prepared me for what I would meet there. I spent every day chasing after kids, trying to prevent them from eating the glue, and carrying them up and down the hill to the playground. After those weeks, I've learned how to pace myself through exhausting days, be more patient with the people around me, and how to quickly problem-solve.” Overcoming obstacles and achieving success in the workplace will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. You’ll develop a sense of pride in your accomplishments, whether it's mastering a new skill, receiving positive feedback from supervisors, or earning recognition for your hard work.

So, before you fully commit to a summer of Netflix marathons and beach days (which, let's be real, still sound pretty awesome), think about snagging yourself a summer job. It's not just about the paycheck – it's about the skills, the experiences, and the friends you'll make along the way. Who knows? Your summer job could be the start of something pretty cool.

All teens mentioned in this article are participating in WIT - Whatever It Takes

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